Your Asthma Guide

By Meghan Bailey on Feb 10, 2015

Your Asthma Guide
By: Pat Carney MSN, APRN, WHNP-BC, CDE 

Asthma is a long-lasting (chronic) disease of the respiratory system. It causes inflammation in the bronchial tubes, tubes that carry air to the lungs. When this happens, the airways of the lungs swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

“More than 28 million people in the United States have asthma.”

Who can get Asthma?

Asthma is very common among both adults and children. More than 28 million people in the United States have asthma, including approximately 7 million children. No one knows why some people have asthma and others don’t. Asthma can occur at any age. It is more common in children than adults. Heredity plays a major factor in who develops asthma. In young children, boys are twice as likely to develop the disease. However, this sex difference tends to disappear in older aged children. Most recently, obesity has been identified as a risk factor for ashtma. 

“Asthma can occur at any age."

 What causes Asthma?

The “asthmatic condition” is always present. It
is what triggers asthma that can create an asthma attack or an asthmatic episode. Common triggers include:

- Pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold, feathers and some foods
- Respiratory infections, colds and flu

- Exercise
- Stress
- Cold and windy weather and/or weather changes 

Additional triggers may include over the counter medications like Aspirin, fever reducers or anti-inflammatories. Discuss any over the counter or prescription medications with your health care provider, along with any alternative therapies or herbal remedies that may have an impact on your asthma.

Products with Hidden Asthma Triggers

Be on the look out for unsuspecting asthma triggers. Every person responds differently to certain products. Hidden triggers can be in the following forms:

- Scents from perfumes, deodorants and cleaning supplies

-  Scented candles and incense

-  Hairspray

-  Air fresheners

-  Personal care products 

 “Asthma symptoms can differ for each person."

 Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms can differ for each person. However, here are some of the most common:

- Wheezing: You may notice a wheezing sound when you breathe. This may only happen when you exercise or have a cold.
- Frequent Cough: This is more common at night. You may or may not cough up mucus.
- Shortness of Breath: This is the feeling when you can’t get enough air into your lungs. You may experience this once in a while, or more often.
- Chest Tightness: Your chest may feel tight, especially during cold weather or exercising. This symptom may be the first sign of a flare-up.